Mor­ris steps up to head Cham­ber of Com­merce

Mor­ris hopes new events, ex­cite­ment help boost mem­ber­ship

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By DAR­WIN WEIGEL dweigel@somd­ Twit­ter: @somd_bized­i­tor

For the third year run­ning, the Charles County Cham­ber of Com­merce will have a busi­ness­woman head­ing up its or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Like soon-to-be past-Chair­woman Bil­lie Stachura, in­com­ing Chair- woman Bon­nie Mor­ris is a long­time Charles County res­i­dent and busi­ness owner. Mor­ris started Ar­row Amer­i­can Pest and Ter­mite Control in her La Plata home in 2002, mov­ing the grow­ing busi­ness to White Plains in 2009. Be­fore her pest control ca­reer, she sold real es­tate.

Her ear­lier ex­pe­ri­ence in real es­tate will come in handy in her new role as the cham­ber nav­i­gates the county’s new com­pre­hen­sive plan and its ex­panded wa­ter­shed con­ser­va­tion dis­trict which in­cludes prop­erty down­zon­ing. The plan has ir­ri­tated busi­ness and prop­erty own­ers alike and is some­thing Mor­ris said the cham­ber will need to keep a close eye on as per­mit and zon­ing reg­u­la­tions de­velop.

“[The com­pre­hen­sive plan] is go­ing to af­fect a lot of busi­nesses,” Mor­ris said in an in­ter­view at her White Plains of­fice this week. “That’s go­ing to af­fect lots of peo­ple: peo­ple that don’t even know that they’re go­ing to be af­fected. That’s a big one right now, and how it’s go­ing to look, I don’t know.”

Along with the com­pre­hen­sive plan, or maybe dove­tail­ing with it, Mor­ris said other county projects po­ten­tially af­fect­ing busi­nesses are com­ing to fruition over the next cou­ple of years, like the widen­ing and re­vamp­ing of Old Wash­ing­ton Road through Wal­dorf and oth- er such po­ten­tial busi­ness in­ter­rupters.

“There’s a lot of stuff over the years that they’ve talked about and now some of it’s com­ing around, and some of it we still have more to talk about: the roads,” she said. “I have a busi­ness where some of my guys are on the roads all day. Some of these roads are ter­ri­ble; I don’t know how you put school buses and stuff on them. It’s a con­cern.”

The Western Park­way com­ple­tion also makes the list, some­thing the county com­mis­sion­ers re­cently de­funded, push­ing it fur­ther down the road: “It’s frus­trat­ing.”

While Mor­ris plans to keep on top of things the county is do­ing in way of sup­port­ing and grow­ing busi­nesses, there are other, less po­lit­i­cal goals, such as host­ing the first cham­ber Women’s Fair, or­ga­niz­ing a busi­ness expo, con­tin­u­ing the work of help­ing the Town of In­dian Head re­cover from years of ne­glect and work on grow­ing the cham­ber’s mem­ber­ship be­yond the 600 or so cur­rent mem­bers.

The new Women’s Fair is sched­uled for March 18 at the Col­lege of South­ern Mar yland and will in­clude speak­ers, women’s health booths and busi­ness and fi­nan­cial plan­ning ad­vice for pro­fes­sional women in the county. A busi­ness expo for the fall is still in the early dis­cus­sion phase.

“A cou­ple peo­ple have talked of a busi­ness expo. I’m not sure what it’s go­ing to look like yet, but that’s one of the things I’ll be talk­ing with the board about — maybe do­ing a busi­ness expo in the fall,” she said.

Work­ing on keep­ing and grow­ing Naval Sup­port Fa­cil­ity In­dian Head, as well as the town, will con­tinue to be a fo­cus of the cham­ber, Mor­ris said.

“We have a whole com­mit­tee (Mil­i­tary Al­liance Com­mit­tee) based on mak­ing sure that In­dian Head stays here,” she said. “That’s re­ally im­port- ant.

“We need to help the town with the mo­men­tum that they need to get the busi­nesses there that they’re go­ing to need,” she added. “They need a lot of stuff up there right now.”

Like Bil­lie Stachura last Jan­uary, Mor­ris is also com­ing into the post with an eye to­ward grow­ing mem­ber­ship.

“I think the best way to grow mem­ber­ship is to get the ex­cite­ment go­ing — get peo­ple in­volved,” Mor­ris said. “And we’re get­ting a lot of new busi­nesses [in the county]. I just got a text from a new busi­ness in La Plata; she had a ques­tion about fill­ing out the ap­pli­ca­tion.”

Mor­ris, born and raised in Delaware, has lived in the county for nearly 40 years with her hus­band, Dickie, whom she met on the Eastern Shore. The cou­ple has two adult chil­dren and four grand­chil­dren.

Along with her grow­ing busi­ness — she’s look­ing to hire more tech­ni­cians soon — Mor­ris is also on the board of the Hu­mane So­ci­ety of Charles County and is heav­ily in­volved with the South­ern Mary­land Busi­ness Net­work, which meets 8 to 9:30 a.m. every Tues­day at the Leg­ends Club at Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Sta­dium.

“It’ll be a fun year — a busy one. There’s a lot to do with the cham­ber, go­ing to the meet­ings, get­ting to know the needs of the com­mu­nity and get­ting to meet peo­ple,” Mor­ris said. “It will be busy.”

Stachura, look­ing back on her year head­ing up the cham­ber, said she was proud to have served and will con­tinue to play a sup­port­ive role, es­pe­cially shep­herd­ing what she called her big­gest ac­com­plish­ment: the Charles County pride pro­gram known as Charles County Proud.

“My big­gest ac­com­plish­ment is kick­ing off the Charles County Proud ini­tia­tive,” Stachura said on Wed­nes­day. “The month of Oc­to­ber will for­ever be known as Charles County Proud Month.”

The cham­ber’s in­au­gu­ral re­cep­tion for Mor­ris is sched­uled for Fri­day, Jan. 27, at Middleton Hall. For tick­ets and to reg­is­ter, go to http://www. charle­scoun­ty­cham­ber. org/.


Bon­nie Mor­ris of La Plata, a White Plains busi­ness owner, is the new chair­woman of the Charles County Cham­ber of Com­merce.

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